Atlanta Orders In: Business slowly recovering at Piastra on Marietta Square

Pizza is among the Italian favorites at Piastra on Marietta Square. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
Pizza is among the Italian favorites at Piastra on Marietta Square. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Five years ago, Greg Lipman opened Piastra on Marietta Square, in partnership with his mother, aka Mama Betty. Since then, the Italian restaurant has earned the only Wine Spectator award in Marietta for three years running.

His menu covers a lot of Italian favorites, including Caesar salad, fried calamari, wood-fired pizza, pasta, chicken Parmesan and tiramisu. But, you’ll also find duck carpaccio, grilled sea bass, a local tomahawk pork chop and more exotic specials, like elk.

“Basically, I do everything in-house,” said Lipman, who attended the New England Culinary Institute and is a veteran of Maxim Prime, Alon’s and Marlowe’s Tavern since moving to Atlanta in 2007. “The breads, the fresh pastas, the cheese; I do all the butchering here. I do the sausage, sauces, pastries, everything. And, I try to buy local and Georgia-grown as much as I can.”

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This takeout order includes rigatoni with house-made mild fennel sausage, Calabrese chiles, shallots, Marsala, pomodoro and pecorino cheese. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
This takeout order includes rigatoni with house-made mild fennel sausage, Calabrese chiles, shallots, Marsala, pomodoro and pecorino cheese. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Not surprisingly, though, Piastra has struggled during the pandemic.

When the statewide shutdown came, Lipman was forced to lay off most of his employees, but he kept a crew of two, and offered to-go service six days a week. He also started a series of Facebook Live videos in an effort to keep Piastra regulars informed and involved.

The dining room reopened on May 5, and, since then, Lipman and his sous chef have manned the kitchen, while he slowly has added back front-of-the-house employees.

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House-made bread is available at Piastra in Marietta. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
House-made bread is available at Piastra in Marietta. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

“It’s been building,” Lipman said. “We’ve gotten almost up to capacity. We took out over half of our tables, and they’re over 8 feet apart. We have the patio open with six tables, and we’ve kind of reached the point where the staff can handle it. We’ve gone on 15-20-minute waits, and we were on a half an hour wait on a Saturday, which is great. It means we’re doing OK for 2020.”

While many regulars have returned to dine at Piastra, Lipman noted that some are still only ordering pickup or delivery.

“I’m not a big fan of delivery food,” Lipman said. “Most of my food loses something in the translation. But, it is Italian, and pizza does travel well, lasagna travels well. Most of our people call up and do takeout themselves. And, we get a lot of repeat business from people who order for the first time. Sometimes, we get three repeat orders in a week. Right now, we’re at about 35%-40% takeout.”

To keep things interesting, Lipman is offering a weekly four-course Chef’s Table dinner, with optional wine pairings. And, he recently unveiled a burger special on Sundays.

This order of arancini from Piastra is accompanied by sun-dried tomato coulis. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
This order of arancini from Piastra is accompanied by sun-dried tomato coulis. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

It’s an 8-ounce, hand-ground 50/50 prime brisket and chuck burger, with a house-baked brioche bun, house-made fresh smoked mozzarella, house-pickled onions, lettuce, tomatoes and Calabrese pepper aioli, served with hand-cut fries tossed in sea salt and pecorino cheese.

“I make 12 of them, one day a week,” Lipman said, “and it’s $12.95. Like most of what I do here, it’s supposed to be a good value for good food.”

PIASTRA

Menu: Italian favorites, with emphasis on local sourcing and house-made ingredients

Alcohol: full bar for on-site dining; bottled wine for takeaway

What I ordered: fried arancini with sun-dried tomato coulis; caprese salad with local tomatoes; prosciutto arugula pizza; rigatoni with house-made fennel sausage; tiramisu. Everything was thoughtfully packaged and traveled well, or was easy to reheat. As promised, it was a good value for good food, and there were plenty of leftovers.

Service options: call for delivery or pickup with a curbside option; on-site dining inside or on the patio

Safety protocols: adhering to all state guidelines; list of extra safety protocols on the website

Address, phone: 45 W. Park Square, Marietta; 770-425-9300

Hours: 5-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 5-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays

Website: piastrarestaurant.com

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